Released on March 24, 2013, this was the first game in what Nintendo Direct called “The Year of Luigi”. It’s the sequel to the original Luigi’s Mansion, which was a launch title on the GameCube….and if you haven’t played that, you missed out :P It was awesome, inventive, and refreshing! I mean, Luigi as the main character? No red-hat Mario in sight?? That was unheard of! Thankfully, this sequel brought that all back again, some 10 years later….
Luigi’s Mansion 2 takes place some time after the first game, when all’s right with the world….or so we thought. A purple crystal called the “Dark Moon” is mysteriously shattered and scattered, causing all the previously-friendly ghosts to go mad. The Professor begs you (forcibly teleports you) to return to the mansion and help him subdue the ghosts and fix the Dark Moon! And by help him I mean you have to do all the risky ghost grabbing yourself, and there’s much more than a single mansion to investigate.
There was a LOT to love about this game, and let me say right off the bat, it was a joy to play. The atmosphere was creepy, just like the first game, with dark and eerie hallways lined with moving suits of armor and rattling furniture. Everything is stylized and downright cute and quirky, which all adds to its strangely funny-creepy mood. The music is catchy and, again, very mood setting. I’ve found myself humming the theme at work many a time.
One thing Nintendo truly excels at is guiding you to a solution without using any words whatsoever. There’s never any explicit text that tells you how to beat a certain boss or solve a puzzle in a room, but the solution is always there, staring back at you. All you have to do is keep calm, don’t panic…and it’s easy to figure things out.
I made a picture that solves every puzzle in the game:
Of course…easier said than done :) There was a decent level of difficulty, and while some parts were easy…others had me slamming my 3DS shut in rage and frustration. Mostly because my stupid fingers were too stupid to execute what I wanted them to do. Pity to the Luigi who’s under my deft (more like daft) control.
Speaking of fear….the ANIMATION is amazing in this game!!! There are so many moments of random animation scattered about the game, in places that don’t need it but are infinitely enhanced by a goofy spill from Luigi, or a shiver, or a pair of ghosts at play in the mansion. Level 5 did a great job – they’re also the ones who do the Professor Layton games. Their knack for puzzles and adventure gaming really shows through in Dark Moon…though it’s not nearly as tough as some of the Professor Layton puzzles.
If you’re a completionist, there’s definitely some replay value in this game. Especially since you need certain tools from later in the game to help you get everything in the beginning of the game. There’s Boos (the big white ghosts from Super Mario World fame) to collect in every level, and a large set of gems in every mansion. Collecting them all unlocks a special something that….I am not privy to, because I didn’t collect them all yet :(
The boss fights are pretty awesome, clever, different, and refreshing. At times it takes some patience to observe things and figure out how to beat them, because again, nothing is explicitly said about that. Once you get to the series of final bosses in the last mansion, things get cinematic…things get EPIC!!! And I loved every moment of it. It was very fitting for the final bosses to feel so grand.
The Bad…Or Merely “So-so”
There aren’t many negative things to say about this game. But there were a few things I wasn’t too excited about.
The bulk of my 3DS gaming happens on my 30-40 minute subway commute to work. I think most missions really cap out at around the 40-60minute mark during your first run through. There’s no way to “save state” wherever you are, or “Bookmark” your spot (a la Fire Emblem). So I can’t shut down my 3DS while I’m at work, unless I’m okay with losing all my progress in that mission. It’s not a big deal, especially since I have the 3DS XL and the battery life on it is GREAT when it’s closed. But it’s a little detail that would’ve been nice to include since this IS a handheld console. It’s meant to be played on the go, during your commute, when you’re outside and time just plops down on to your lap serendipitously.
The middle of the game is a bit simple for my tastes. I know this is one of those “E for Everyone” games, and it kinda shows in the middle. It’s just more of the same exploring, capturing ghosts, and defeating poltergeist bosses. The beginning and end mansions are absolutely wonderful, so I find this forgivable. However when I was in the middle of this game, I found myself yearning to return to Fire Emblem: Awakening…just for the strategy and brain-stimulus it provides, which I wasn’t getting from Dark Moon at the time.
There’s also a few glitches in the game….a couple rough edges that could’ve been QA’d, but nothing game-breaking. Just slight annoyances that cropped up maybe 3 or 4 times while playing. I can’t even remember what they were at the moment…except for one where Luigi kept heading left. Then another where a platform unfolded over an item I needed to pick up…and I couldn’t pick it up….till my 30th attempt. Their “science” can be a little inconsistent as well. The professor, in the beginning, tells me he can’t teleport more than 1 person at a time through his Pixelator, but then way later in the game, he totally teleports two people :( Not including me, of course!!! If the Professor didn’t want me back, why couldn’t he just be straight with me about it, eh? But this is a Luigi game about ghosts, so who am I to be picky! The realm of the supernatural is not exactly a hard science.
My first real CON…and yes, I have to say this is a true con. If you die…..it gets easier to play. I hate that. I really do. I know I rage quit a few times and slammed my 3DS shut because of this game, during a certain boss fight in the 3rd mansion. For days, I would die, get mad, and quickly shut it off. Then I’d restart, play it again from the beginning of the mission, and lose all over again. A week later, instead of powering it off in a fit of anger….I didn’t. I took a deep breath. I hit “Restart Mission”. And guess what? The onslaught of ghosts, which was very befitting of the Witching Hour, did NOT appear this time!!!! That was the wave of ghosts that would drain 100% of my health, and it didn’t come. Instead, the final boss of that mansion came up instead and I beat him easily. What the hell? Nintendo, you don’t have to go so easy on people. It sorta cheapened my victory. That said, it’s not like I restarted to do it the hard way again….
Lastly, there’s the gyroscope. I hate that thing! They really tried to incorporate it, and I found it unnecessary. Nintendo usually does a good job with incorporating the interactive stuff. But like I said, this is a handheld console that I play on the subway. During the game, when you peak through a crack in the wall or through a window to spy on some ghosts, the gyroscope activates. You have to physically move the 3DS to pan the camera around the room and see what there is to see. But you know what I see on the train? AN EARTHQUAKE!!!!! Everything shakes like mad, and I’d hammer the B-button till it let me exit that view. You also need the gyroscope when Luigi tight-rope walks, or tip toes across a balancing beam. Again, I’m usually on a rattling train system built two centuries ago, so it’s just horrible. You can also point the 3DS up and down to make Luigi aim with his vacuum or flashlight, but you can also do this with the X and B buttons. So there is no point for the gyroscope there.
Need for the 3D (stereoscopic) view in this game is pretty minimal, but I did need it for certain rooms that required I see depth. Such as the Endless Stairs room, or a part where I had to fly up through the ceiling and I couldn’t see where the hole was without proper depth.
All in all, a great game that was well worth the money! It’s good pretty good replay value, especially if you’re a completionist. It’s not too hard and great to relax with after work, but not so easy that you feel immortal in the game. The animations are cute, the mansions are eerie, and despite it’s minor flaws, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is a great game to have on the 3DS.
The End! Hope you enjoyed my crappy cellphone shots of my 3DS, haha!